/ Technology

This week in comments – Fairtrade, fair bills and fairer banking

Two hands shaking making heart shape

If we buy Fairtrade tea and coffee, shouldn’t we be doing the same with tech products? Is it fair for those who can’t afford to heat their home to go without proper heating? Here’s what you think on all this and more…

Should tech be Fairtrade?

We’ve got Fairtrade coffee, tea and chocolate, but should our technology products be more ethical too? Jondanzig thinks so:

‘Yes, we should be demanding ‘fairer trade’ for everything on our shopping list. As shoppers we need to take a responsibility for the people who provide us with goods. Do we care if a boy of five who’s hardly had enough to eat picks the beans that make our wake-up morning coffee? Yes, I hope we do care.’

Wavechange points out that some companies have taken steps in the right direction:

‘Apple responded to criticism from Greenpeace about use of toxic chemicals and other environmental issues, and it is good that they are taking a lead regarding sourcing of materials. I would like to be sure that Apple has stopped using sweatshops.’

Parents – not smartphone apps – should keep tabs on kids

Can a smartphone app really help to keep tabs on kids? John Ward says they’ll get wise to it:

‘Any smart kid can out-smart a smartphone (they’ll leave it in the protected zone while they stray perhaps). I’m not sure a child is capable of being independent enough to rely on a mobile phone until they’re about 11 and having a smartphone on them makes them prey to criminals.’

Jumpers instead of heating – how you’re cutting back this winter

We found that most Brits are cutting back to pay for rising energy bills this winter, but Alasdair doesn’t think this is a bad thing:

‘My generation was quite used to wearing woollen jerseys indoors post war, when there were often ‘Jack Frost’ patterns on the inside of window panes! Over the years, we have become soft and used to sitting in front of a TV, instead of a fireplace, in shirts or even less!’

Cherry’s whole household is putting on extra layers:

‘I work from home and try not to use the heating during the day. Not only am I wearing thermal underwear but my spaniel wears a jacket too.’

And Claire is finding energy costs a real struggle in her draughty house:

‘I’m in an old ground floor flat, which is rental. The storage heaters are awfully inefficient, the windows are draughty as anything, and the vent in the larder blows a gale through. My last quarterly bill was £350, and that was only having the hallway heater on.

‘I have now resorted to wearing clothes in bed, never daring open the curtains to let heat escape. Invested in seals for the door frames, and draught excluders and always closing doors. I’m basically only living in one room and I’m dreading the next bill.’

Could this be the turning point for real change in banking?

When we reported on our research into the banking sector, the British Bankers’ Association (BBA) was quick to question it:

‘Did you really find that “almost half [of respondents] feel the government prioritises the opinions of banks over everything else, whether that’s consumers, businesses or regulators”? Because we don’t know of any bankers who would agree with that, let alone MPs.’

Many of our commenters jumped to our defence, including William:

‘Has the BBA been asleep the past decade? PPI, HSBC-owned company misselling products to the elderly. Banks see consumers and businesses as cash cows, nothing more.’

Phil was also keen to have his say and his response has earned him this week’s commenter of the week accolade:

‘It would appear from the BBA post that the bankers have learnt nothing from the past four years and they’re surprised nobody trusts them? They pushed for lighter regulation and yet when it all went pear-shaped who did they expect to rescue them? You can’t have it both ways BBA, if you expect the taxpayer to step in and prop you up, in the future you have to play by our rules.’

Comments have been edited due to length, so make sure to read them in full on their relevant Convos (by clicking on the red title link).